Today, February 6, 2023, marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Demography and Democracy, Dubravka Šuica, Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, and Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, joined together to reaffirm the EU’s strong commitment to eradicate female genital mutilation worldwide and made the following statement:
“Female Genital Mutilation is a human rights violation and a form of violence against women and girls. FGM has no health benefits and causes life-long harm for women and girls.
It affects over 200 million people worldwide, of whom, 600,000 are estimated to live in Europe. We must take determined action to bring about change, eradicate this practice if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (target 5.3) deadline of Zero FGM by 2030.
Transforming social and gender norms by partnering with men and boys is key to ending FGM. The EU has been supporting the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation with €18.5 million since 2016, establishing 1,758 coalitions of men and boys.
Last year, the Commission proposed EU-wide rules to combat violence against women. The new rules will include the criminalisation of FGM throughout the EU. This year, we will also present a recommendation on how to prevent harmful practices against women and girls in the first place.
Often FGM is not performed in the EU, but rather in a third country, where girls are brought for that purpose. As of March, police and border guards will be alerted when they are dealing with a person at risk of gender-based violence, including FGM, thanks to the upgraded Schengen Information System.
As we celebrate 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, it is due time for women and girls to be free from violence once and for all. It is our responsibility to protect their right to safety and bodily autonomy. FGM must end.”
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, as defined by the World Health Organization. It is estimated that 190,000 girls in 17 European countries alone are at risk of being mutilated while 600,000 women are living with the consequences of FGM in Europe. Every year at least 20,000 women and girls are coming to Europe from FGM-risk countries as asylum seekers. FGM is carried out erroneously for a variety of cultural or social reasons on young girls between infancy and the age of 15. FGM constitutes a form of violence against women and girls; it has severe life-long physical and psychological consequences.
The European Commission is strongly committed to ending all forms of gender-based violence in line with the Union’s equality policies. This commitment is outlined within the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, the EU Gender Action Plan III, and the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, which aims to end violence against children, including FGM both inside and outside the EU. In line with these policies and our commitment to end FGM in Europe and globally, we support and cooperate with survivors, affected families and communities, experts and policymakers.
More information: European Commission